Last night we ate at Noodles and Company. Hey I know it’s a chain but it was new to me.
First of all Noodles and Company is not at all what I had expected. I had expected a pasta bar where you go down a school cafeteria style line, pick your pasta, pick a sauce, pick toppings and pay at the end of the line. And it would be all you can eat.
Not so! Noodles and Company is another in the long trend of restaurants offering better than fast food meals without table service. It’s called “fast casual” and traces it’s roots back to Chipotle’s. This is a cost savings measure by companies and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Our experience was quite good.
One walks in and orders a base pasta bowl. There are two sizes, small and large, and I found the portions sizes to be nearly perfect. I believe all of the pasta bowls are meatless and you then have your choice of adding a seasoned meat of your choice or tofu. The one exception is the Steak Stroganoff. There are also a few soup options, salads, and several sandwiches to choose from.
We went to Noodles because The Child wanted spaghetti. Naturally she ordered the kids grilled chicken bites and apples. I ordered the Steak Stroganoff with a Tomato Cucumber side salad. The Wife ordered the Pesto Cavatappi and added Parmesan Crusted Chicken to it. The Child’s meal came with an juice pouch or milk. The juice was organic apple juice. Very impressive. We adults got soft drinks which were self serve at a….. COKE MACHINE! I love the Coke machine! All my favorite versions of Fanta Zero in one unlimited tap.
I don’t think we waited more than five minutes for our food to be brought to our table. One of the pluses of this type of restaurant design. The Child picked at her grilled chicken. Grilled is not her thing so I was surprised she ordered it. I tasted the chicken and thought it was pretty good. She did not like the marinara dipping sauce. I think it was chunkier than she would like. She gave the apples a big thumbs down. She claimed they tasted like lemons. And they did. I suspect they spritz the cut apples with lemon juice to prevent them from browning. I don’t mind the taste. Beats preservatives.
The Child ended up ordering a small bowl of buttered noodles. I had them hold the seasoning and Parmesan cheese which comes standard. Buttered egg noodles was a college staple for me and I still eat them. These looked to be made with the same dumpling size noodles I always buy. She ate half and I finished them. They were very good.
The Wife said her meal was excellent. She raved about the chicken addition. She found the large size bowl to be the perfect size for her and quite filling.
I started with my salad and it was very good. The tomatoes may be food service grade and just barely flavorful but the texture was good and I love them with cucumbers and red onions. Just a little seasoning and oil rounded out the flavor. My pasta bowl was fantastic though it really isn’t a Stroganoff. Great flavor. I can’t pinpoint what the non-traditional flavor was. Could have been the grated cheese which isn’t found in traditional Stroganoff? Maybe it was garlic? I almost want to say mustard, the sauce did have a burnt yellow tint to it.
All in all this was a great experience. About half of what we usually pay dining out. The Child liked it enough to go back which is a big plus. Always good when she expands her dining horizons.